Success in Finding Ancestors or Cousins that Need Temple Ordinances

Basics on finding research opportunities in FamilySearch Family Tree


The days of the green temple icon are coming to an end. Those people who were told that all they had to do was look for the green icons to find a name to take to the temple are going to be frustrated.


Before going any further, it is extremely important to point out that there are a huge number of opportunities to find people needing temple ordinances using the FamilySearch Family Tree, but they are not often there for the picking. The technique for finding new additions to the Family Tree and thus names for temple ordinances has changed. However, the Family Tree and all the online digitized records still provide abundant opportunities to find names, it is just that the process is different and slightly more complicated than it has been in the recent past. The key to finding new names involves two relatively new features of the Family Tree: descendancy research and record hints.


For some time, I have been teaching people, one-on-one and in classes, how to do descendancy research. During the past year, if I can spend an hour or so, I have had a nearly 100% success rate in finding new people to add to the Family Tree, that are not duplicates and that need their ordinance work done. Here are some of my thoughts on the process.


First, it is important to note that when individuals come to the Family Tree there are three possibilities:

  1. They find the Family Tree fully populated with a huge number of ancestors and relatives.
  2. The find only a few lines fully populated but some are missing or only have a few entries.
  3. The Family Tree is essentially empty.


If either number 2 or 3 is the condition of the Family Tree, then the person has an opportunity to start doing research. In many cases, FamilySearch will provide record hints that will assist in finding new family members. In some cases, involving recently immigrated families (after 1900), there may be some difficulty in finding ancestors, but even with recent immigrants, progress can be made although the immediate success rate may be lower.


I am not necessarily sympathetic to pleas that a name is needed immediately to satisfy some arbitrary goal. It is like ordering a plant to grow. Sometimes you just have to spend the time to reap the harvest.


Now what about number 1 on the list, the person with a pedigree going back many generations? Is the family history all done? I would say not by a long shot. Here is the process.


If you want to see results more quickly, start looking in the family tree for a family that has a line going back into the 1800s in the United States. In the traditional or pedigree view, carefully examine each ancestor in the line, starting with parents or grandparents and ask the following questions:

  • Is the information complete, i.e. birth, death and burial dates and places?
  • Do the dates and places make sense?
  • Have any sources been added?
  • Do the sources make sense?
  • Do the dates and places of the children make sense? For example, are the dates consistent with reality and are the places also consistent with reality?


Be sure and do additional research if the answer to any one of the questions is a no. Only move back a generation if the information is complete, sourced and believable. Keep moving back on the selected U.S. line until you reach the person who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then go back at least one generation. The reason to start back in the early 1800s or the late 1700s is the 110 Year Rule where ordinances are not allowed without permission from a close family member. If your pedigree ends in the late 1800s then you already have many opportunities to do research. Again, depending on the immigrant status of your ancestors, you may be focussing on finding their origin in Europe or elsewhere. Some ethnic groups such as Native Americans and former black slaves pose their own particular issues.


The next step involves switching to the descendancy view for the ancestor you have found who lived in the United States. Just remember to verify that you are searching a believable family line with supporting sources.


The descendancy view link looks like two joined lollipops. This should begin to show your ancestor's descendants and look like this:


The list of icons down the right side is the key to unlocking research possibilities. For example, I clicked on the Harrie R. Garoutte and Tlllman Howard Chance Family. Here are the results:


Notice the red warning icon. If I click on this red icon, I get the following message;


Obviously, the information in the Family Tree about this family is wrong. The other blue and purple icons indicate that there are no sources for this family and add record hints for sources. By clicking on the icons and links, I found some information about this person that indicates that he was married at the time of his death. However I have to resolve the red warning icon. Either the person is wrong or the dates are wrong. Either way I can start doing some research that will very likely produce new people.


At each step of the process, you need to ask whether or not there is any supporting documentation for taking the next step. But if done carefully, this methodology will very likely lead you to new people to add to the Family Tree.


Written by James L. Tanner. Used with permission.




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